TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida State social-media campaign turned ugly Sunday when the university’s athletic department opened Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston up to nationwide mockery.
The department attempted to engage fans on Twitter by soliciting questions to be used for a video on the team website.
The hashtag “#AskJameis” became a trending topic on Twitter for a time Sunday — for all the wrong reasons.
The Twitter feed was bombarded by accounts making fun of Winston and taking shots at the sophomore. Winston has been heavily criticized for some off-the-field incidents during his time at Florida State.
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He was investigated in an alleged sexual assault of a female student last season, but was never charged. Winston was suspended from the baseball team for three games and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service after being cited for stealing $32 of crab legs from a local grocery store. There were other run-ins with authorities, but no arrests.
The Twitterverse quickly went on the attack.
“I knew there was going to be some negativity going into it,” said Elliott Finebloom, Florida State sports information director. “The goal of the Twitter Q-and-A was to continue to find ways to connect our fans and the players they support. That’s important to us … and social is a big way of doing it these days.
“That was the ultimate goal.”
The tweets covered a wide range, from witty to malicious. Most were aimed at Winston, but others questioned why the university would risk this type of response.
One post read: “Do you know that you have to Buy One to get One Free at Publix?”
Another read: “Who gave you better protection last year — your offensive line or the TPD?”
TPD is shorthand for the Tallahassee Police Department.
“This was doomed from the beginning,” said Robert Stewart, director of the Ohio University school of journalism. “It’s basically a setup. Whoever thought this was a good idea had not done P.R. 101, which is to think about what all could go wrong. Everything about this was naive.”
• Oregon left tackle Tyler Johnstone, who has started 26 straight games, has re-torn a ligament in his right knee and will be out for the upcoming season, according to a published report.
Johnstone told Comcast SportsNet he will have surgery Friday.
Oregon officials would not discuss the injury. Johnstone was coming back from surgery to repair the same ligament after he was injured during Oregon’s 30-7 victory over Texas in last season’s Alamo Bowl.
• Oklahoma has voted to suspend linebacker Frank Shannon for a year, but the school has been unable to enforce the decision.
In a news release, school president David L. Boren said the school’s internal disciplinary process voted June 18 to remove Shannon for a violation of its Title IX policy, which covers sexual misconduct.
Shannon, who has been practicing with the team, led the Sooners with 92 tackles last season.